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What Kind of Supplier Should You Work With?

January 31, 2019

What Kind of Supplier Should You Work With?

From manufacturers and wholesale distributors to drop-shipping and ODMs, there are abundant options for companies looking to partner with a wholesale clothing supplier. Choosing the right clothing suppliers starts with understanding the three main types a company can work with, and knowing the benefits and challenges with each.

So what kind of supplier should you work with? Keep reading to find out, then learn more about sourcing with The/Studio.

Traditional Manufacturers

Retailers and brands typically work with traditional manufacturers to create their products. Traditional manufacturers are set up to mass produce a specific set of items, and generally do very well with that process. In working with these suppliers, companies have a lot of control over the quality of the product, the price of the finished product, and any detailing such as branding or color options.

On the downside, using a traditional manufacturer as a wholesale clothing supplier can be a challenge for smaller or growing brands – or even those simply looking for more flexibility. Traditional clothing suppliers and manufacturers often have high minimum order requirements and long lead times. Often, different types of products come from different manufacturing facilities, which can add logistical difficulty. They also lack a variety of auxiliary services that small and boutique brands might be interested in, such as in-house design services and a cloud-based management system.

Wholesalers, Distributors, or Dropshippers

Wholesale clothing suppliers, distributors, and dropshippers are a great option for companies that aren’t interested in creating their own products and/or holding their inventory. In this model, companies buy product from the clothing supplier and simply sell those products. With wholesalers and distributors, the company will carry the inventory. With dropshippers, the supplier will fulfill the orders directly.

The products available are typically those already on the market, which can boost the importance of other competitive differentiators, such as marketing and brand positioning. It can also, however, severely lower profit margins.

Buying products from wholesale clothing suppliers requires that retailers have a good grip on their inventory management system, since this supply chain can be much more complex than manufacturing products with a manufacturing partner. On the downside of this supplier option is that companies have little control over the end price of the product, since it already comes pre-made and ready to sell. Profit margins are likely to be lower using wholesalers clothing suppliers or distributors.

Makers & On-Demand Manufacturers

Working with makers and on-demand manufacturers has many benefits. Both options allow companies to choose the quality, quantity, and timeline that best fits their operation. Both types of clothing suppliers also make it easy for companies and brands to create a custom product and look, while still keeping a handle on final product price.

Makers willing to collaborate with a brand, such as those that create custom or bespoke pieces, are often willing to negotiate on price, quantity, and timeline based on the needs of the business. The benefit of a partnership is that it’s a win-win for the retailer and the maker. Both get the benefit of publicity from the other and there’s an opportunity to bring a truly unique product to market.

On-demand manufacturing offers the same flexibility as working with a maker, in a more traditional environment. Using on-demand manufacturing, companies can come to the manufacturer with an idea and utilize in-house design services to customize the product based on their consumer demands. With no minimum order requirements and fast turnaround times, this option is a way to avoid working with wholesale clothing suppliers while still getting the high-quality product you’re looking for.

Learn more about on-demand manufacturing at The Studio and how it could help you scale your business.